A Project by
the Museology Class
Chicago's East Side Churches
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Bethlehem Lutheran


Bethlehem Lutheran Second Church Built in 1891

      Bethlehem Lutheran was founded over a century ago in 1874.  It was the oldest church in the East Side community and founded for the German-Americans.  Frederick A. Eggers, leader of the movements to establish a church, was born in Hanover, Germany in 1821 and came to the United States in 1850.  Frederick Eggers went out looking for a minister who could preach to the community and be a guiding influence in their lives.  He came upon Pastor J. P. Beyer.  Then the Robertsdale mission began.  Robertsdale, Indiana, just southeast of Chicago was where the services for the German-born of both states were held.  People got there no matter how bad the weather or roads were or how difficult travel was.  Later, Pastor Beyer got help for running the congregation from Pastor Doederlein, a pastor from Immanuel Church in South Chicago.  On May 29, 1871, Robertsdale's had its first Confirmation.  During its first official meeting on December 27, 1874,  Pastor Duborg chose the name Bethlehem for the new church.  He was another minister from Immanuel and helped served Robertsdale Mission and also organized the congregation.  Bethlehem also means "House of  Bread".  Both Mr. Charles Colehour and Mr. Douglas Taylor offered to donate the land to the church but Colehour's offer was accepted because Taylor's land was located on the other side of the tracks.  Colehour's donated land was located on 103rd Street and Avenue H. 
        A very important decision was made on May 2, 1875, and the decision was to join the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and to establish a  Christian school.  Bethlehem was originally without a pastor or teacher.  It agreed to rent out its space to a public school.  It found its pastor on August 3, 1879.  The church's first bell weighed twenty-five hundred pounds and did not fit in the building's belfry.  A bell tower was constructed and the bell was dedicated in 1886 with these inscribed words, "Glory to God in the Highest".  A new church building was constructed in the early 1890's because the number of members were increasing and they started to feel cramped.  On Holy Thursday, 1918, the church caught fire.  The cause of the fire was never determined though it later was said to be the boiler.  The members of the church then started to rebuild a new church immediately and adding a school to it.  The original school no longer stands.

Second Church After Maundy Thursday Fire 1918

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